|Victor Santiago Pineda, PhD|
|Born||Victor Santiago Pineda
November 17, 1978
|Residence||Los Angeles, California|
|Alma mater||University of California Berkeley, UCLA|
|Occupation||President, Pineda Foundation|
Victor Santiago Pineda, MCP, PhD, born November 17, 1978 is a social development scholar and disability rights advocate. Pineda is also a sought after international speaker/consultant. Additionally, Pineda has made several documentaries around the world shining light on human rights issues. He was the youngest government delegate to participate in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He used this experience to launch the World Enabled Global Initiative and establish the Pineda Foundation a voluntary non-profit that promotes the rights and dignities of the young people with disabilities.
Victor Pineda was born on November 17, 1978, in Caracas, Venezuela, to, Julio Cesar Pineda, law professor and former Venezuelan Ambassador to Kuwait, South Korea, and Libya, and Dubravka Purkarevic, a visiting professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and former Ms. Venezuela. At the age of two months, Victor Pineda was taken to a hospital because he has sustained a high fever. For the next five years he demonstrated gradual weakening of his skeletal muscles. By age four, he tripped and fell and by age seven stopped walking completely. His weakness would continue and affect his breathing, by the time he was in high school needed the use ventilator at night, and by the time he started his doctoral program he required the ventilator twenty-four hours per day.
As a child, Pineda was diagnosed with Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA-Type II), a form of muscular dystrophy; as an adult, Pineda was examined by Neurophysiologist, Dr. Perry Shieh, who with the use of Electromyography, determined that there was no evidence to suggest Spinal muscular atrophy. The specific cause of Victor's muscle weakness is as yet not defined.
Victor attended Corona Del Mar High School, participated in debate, public affairs and government. He was selected by his graduating class as a commencement speaker. Upon graduating in 1997, Victor attended the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (YLF), where he first realized his passion for education and advocacy. As a freshman at the University of California Berkeley he received specialized support services provided by the Disabled Student's Office (DSP), including participating in the Disabled Students Residence Program (DSRP). Pineda developed into campus leader. He was an elected Senator for the ASUC student government, defended affordable housing, and helped resurrect the long dormant Disabled Students Union (DSU). While at UC Berkeley he established the Disability Media Center (DMI) and the Pineda Foundation to provide 21st century workforce skills to youth with disabilities. At UC Berkeley Pineda earned degrees in Political Economy and Business Administration as well as a Master's Degree in City and Regional Planning with a concentration in Regional Economic Development. He used these skills in Washington DC where he served as a summer associate at the US Treasury's Department of International Affairs. He moved to Los Angeles in 2006. He received a graduate equity and diversity fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in Urban Planning at the Luskin School for Public Affairs, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Victor Pineda wrote his doctoral dissertation in the field of social policy formation. In 2009 he was awarded the US Department of Education's prestigious Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship and Sheikh Saud Qassimi Public Policy Fellowship at the Dubai School of Government. Pineda was awarded his PhD with distinction in 2010 for his dissertation entitled, The Capability Model of Disability: Assessing the Success of UAE Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 in the Emirate of Dubai.
Pineda's commitment to social justice came to him at Berkeley. As a student, Pineda received an award for a short form documentary he directed about life in Cuba, Victor formed an arts group called, Babylon Arts Group, that featured noted artists like, Jasko Begovic. The mission of the organization was to aid in the development of artists across a variety of disciplines.
The Pineda Foundation continues to support Victor's activism throughout the world. In recent years, through the Foundation, Victor has been able to raise over a million dollars in support of programs that support young people with disabilities. Among Dr. Pineda's most significant accomplishments are the creation of "It's Our Story", the US National Flagship project that contains over 1,100 video testimonials and thousands of still photos on the current experience of living in America with a disability, the launch of World Enabled (WE) an online platform for information and inspiration sharing innovative user generated videos and success stories for disabled youth, and the Open Hands Initiative Comic Book which launched in Damascus, Syria on August 1, 2010, brought together disabled rights advocates from the US and Syria, to work with disabled Syrian children to develop a new comic book character. Co-sponsored by Liquid Comics, with the endorsement of former President, Bill Clinton, the project led to the creation of the comic book, Silver Scorpion
Dr. Pineda has authored work for diverse audiences from children's material to academic journals, and in the mainstream media. Through a partnership between his World Enabled Initiative and UNICEF, Pineda authored an educational publication for children called, "It's About Ability", to generate increased attention on youth with disabilities and to explain the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities. The booklet was translated in 8 languages (English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Khmer, Russian, Arabic, Serbian) with the goal of teaching disabled children about their rights. In 2010, Pineda self-published his dissertation entitled, The Capability Model of Disability: Assessing the Success of UAE Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 in the Emirate of Dubai'.
Awards and Honors 
Dr. Pineda has received numerous awards for both his domestic and international work. Most prestigious of which was the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a, Cal Alumni Association for his work in education and human rights. Victor Pineda's "It's About Ability" project was honored on February 17, 2011 in Montenegro for the Best Humanitarian Action by UNICEF. In 2009, Pineda was awarded the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) Paul G. Hearne Award
- "A new legal tool to protect persons with disabilities". United Nations Human Rights OHCHR.
- "Australia influences global action on disability and development". Australian Government.
- "Former Ambassador says confrontation with USA won't go beyond microphone diplomacy". vheadline.com.
- "Let Us Be Moors: Islam, Race and "Connected Histories"". Turkish Weekly.
- "Chavez: Western media try to demonize Iran and other Muslim countries". Press TV.
- "Naval Postgraduate School Global Public Policy Academic Group (GPPAG) Faculty".
- "MONARCAS DE VENEZUELA". monarcasdevenezuelaymundiales.blogspot.com.
- "A new legal tool to protect persons with disabilities". United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
- "Physician Profile on Dr. Perry B. Shieh". www.healthgrades.com.
- "Seeking 'Spatial Justice' for World's Disabled". www.international.ucla.edu.
- "UC Berkeley student Vik Pineda shines a personal spotlight on treatment of disabled people". berkeley.edu.
- "Spatial Justice: Capabilities and Disabilities in the City". UCLA.edu.
- "SF: Jasko Begovic of Official Tourist Presents We Cannot be Destroyed". Fader.
- "It's Our Story National Launch at National Press Club, Washington DC". www.abilitymagazine.com.
- "A World Enabled - Media Series". www.aworldenabled.com.
- "'A World Enabled': fighting for the human rights of persons with disabilities". CBS News.
- "Open Hands Initiative Comic Book, 2010". www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.
- "Special Session: Peace and Beyond in the Middle East...". Clinton Global Initiative.
- "New Muslim comic book superhero on the way". MSNBC.
- "It’s About Ability - An explanation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities". www.unicef.org.
- "Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a". www.berkeley.edu.
- "DISABILITY: It’s About Ability - An explanation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities". Child Rights Information Network.
- "'It’s About Ability' campaign honoured for the Best Humanitarian Action in Montenegro". www.unicef.org.
- "Former NCD Advisory Committee Members Honored". National Counsel on Disability.